I shaved my legs today. The first date with a primary care provider made me a little nervous. I assume really healthy people don’t worry about meeting a doctor for the first time. Blood Pressure and Body Mass Index are things I don’t expect to impress my doctor with so I thought that less hairy legs might show that I was making an effort.
While I tend to be a bit forgetful, I truly thought I’d seen my doctor within the past year. I tried to make an appointment following an urgent care visit over the weekend but was unable to follow up with my primary care provider because after three years, they break up with you. I realize I’d been to the clinic several times in the past few months because I’d gone to serve as moral support for my son and husband. I’ve taken friends to the doctor and even joined my daughter for a visit. My great nephew and dad’s doctors have greeted m but I hadn’t seen a primary care provider since Obama’s second term. One of my care team members ( that’s what they call them now) noted that I appear to be a mom who puts the care of others before myself.
Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is one of the books I’m currently reading. Gawande writes that something as simple as a checklist on a form developed by nurses to record vital signs hels medical providers make better decisions. I reminded myself of this as I was asked to step on the scale. As I dropped my coat, sweater, purse, shoes, glasses, watch, earrings, and the contents of my pockets including a cough drop wrapper onto a chair next to the scale, I realized that my husband and son never worry about getting such an accurate measurement of their weight. Does their doctor care about the weight of their added layers, keys and wallet? Should I have kept everything on this time ? If I gain weight between now and my next visit (within a year according to my doctor’s recommendation), will I be able to manipulate the data in a way that makes me feel better if I don’t have an Ace up my sleeve (of my really heavy coat)?
Weight is a sensitive topic for me. When I was nine, a boy next to me in math class asked about the wolves under my shirt. I didn’t understand what he was talking about. “Wolves?” I asked. He repeated himself several times and as he got louder and louder, another kid across the room piped in, “Not wolves–rolls” while making hand gestures about my muffin top.
At age nine, I played hard every day. I was the fastest girl in the 4th grade, had a long walk to the bus stop and a free reign of the high desert that stretched endlessly behind our house. I loved to read so spent time with books but we didn’t have a television so I had no screen time. I ate organic venison and wild caught fish. We never ate out, soda was a rare treat and we lived so far from town that I seldom got candy like my friends who lived closer to stores. Yet, according to the boys in my class, I had rolls.
As I met my primary care provider, I expected her to say something about my weight. Though I was there for a follow up for a skin infection, it seems like she’ say something about making healthier choices. Throughout our conversation, she didn’t seem to get there so finally, I brought it up. I wish I would have had a recording device because her tone and word choice were INSPIRING. I won’t put it as eloquently as she did but it goes something like this, if I move more and eat less I will feel better. I’M the one who needs to make the decision to do this AND I’m the one who’ll live with the choices I make.
As I reflect on my visit, I wonder if the urgent care doctor I saw this weekend made a note in my file. Did he record that he’d played the role of bad cop insisting I have my primary care provider check out my blood pressure? Did my new doctor seem so amazingly caring because the other had been such a jerk? Was he really a jerk or did it just seem that way because I felt so poorly when I went in for urgent care?
Either way, today feels like a turning point in my wellness journey. I realize that I’ve spent a great deal of time caring for others and it’s time to make better choices when it comes to taking care of me. I’ve set a reminder in my calendar to make an appointment for my annual visit in 2020. I have one year before I report back to see if my doctor’s wellness advice changed my daily habits.
I hereby declare that today is the eve of the first day of my year of living ABUNDANTLY. Self-care in the upcoming year will include daily movement, fuel that nourishes, and quiet time to reflect on my journey. While reduced blood pressure and body mass index could be indicators for success, I think instead I’m going to count the number of nature parks I explore, spinach salads I enjoy and beverages high in antioxidants I consume. I will also track how many walks I take with my German Shepherd granddog and how many sandcastles I build with cute kids.
As I look back on the favorite adventures of my childhood, I think I’ll try to revisit some of the places in the Pacific Northwest I most enjoyed. Is it too late to encourage my inner 9 year old?
Unfortunately, I realized this evening that I did a really bad job with my leg hair removal attempt. I did a great job on the front of my left leg but it appears I forgot my right leg entirely. LUCKILY, today’s visit didn’t reveal my carelessness in that area. Maybe my brain fog and follow through will change as my diet and exercise habits change too!